BRUSSELS (VN) — Geraint Thomas (Ineos) heads into the 2019 Tour de France, starting tomorrow, without much worry about defending his title.
The Welshman began as Chris Froome’s right-hand man in 2018. He won two stages in the Alps and the eventual race overall, with Froome turning to helper and placing third. One year on, he’s relaxed and appreciative of what he has already in his palmarès.
“I’ve always wanted to do as best I can and win as much as I can but at the same time if I don’t win this year it’s not like I’m going to retire and be like: ‘I should have won that stuffing Tour in 2019,'” Thomas told The Guardian.
“I’m not saying I don’t care. I am certainly going to give everything I’ve got. But I want to get the chance to soak this Tour up, not in too much of a way that it throws me off but just to appreciate it more.”
Bradley Wiggins, after winning the 2012 Tour, said that is always difficult for a successful band to come through and release a great sophomore album. Thomas with “nothing to prove” would not mind just having that one amazing hit from 2018.
“I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone,” he said. “If I end up as a one-hit wonder, it’s still a pretty good hit to have. A lot of guys just dream of riding the Tour de France. I have won it.”
Thomas improved enough in the mountains over the last decade that he won the Rosière and Alpe d’Huez stages. It is a good thing because the 2019 route is stacked heavily with mountains and only a 27.6km team time trial, Sunday in Brussels, and a 27.2km individual on for stage 13 in Pau.
“I can hopefully begin on the front foot,” he said of Sunday’s stage. “After that the next big day will be the time trial which is already into the end of the second week.
“Then it’s just a big finale – the Tourmalet, Foix Prat d’Albis and then the three days in the Alps, all in the last week really so it’s certainly hard.”
Thomas is taking the reins this year with Froome out indefinitely due to a leg fracture last month. Team Ineos, alongside the 33-year-old Welshman, named 22-year-old Egan Bernal as captain.
“His absence definitely leaves a big hole,” Thomas said of Froome. “He’s one of the greatest ever grand tour riders and to not have him there lining up is a huge shame, for him personally but especially for the team. We’ll certainly miss him.”
“Egan Bernal a potential winner? I don’t see why not. He’s certainly a massive talent and I would put a lot of money on him winning the Tour at some stage of his career. He’s going well and hopefully he’ll be there right in the crunch in the mountains.”